Note: All photos used here were taken by Nicole Kroll Photography, 518-307-5986.
Two of Saratoga’s favorite chefs, Max London of Max London’s and John Ireland of Panza’s, faced off in the Saratoga Farmers’ Market’s fifth annual Iron Chef Challenge on the morning of Saturday, October 6. Grey skies did nothing to deter the crowd of onlookers who tried to learn about the techniques and flavor combinations used by the professionals.
Recognizing the diverse culinary preferences of its customers, the market this year asked the chefs to develop separate meat-centered and vegan plates, and an optional third plate of their own creation.
“Since our market’s first Iron Chef Challenge in 2008, this has become a favorite annual event among our market customers. It’s inspiring for home cooks to see what our area’s talented chefs can create with autumn’s fresh, local ingredients,” noted Jeff Bowers, President of Saratoga Farmers’ Market Association.
The chefs were allowed to bring butter, flour, oil, salt, pepper, three other ingredients of their choice, and cooking utensils. The cooking equipment was provided by Adirondack Appliance, including a flat-top EVO grill.
Shortly before 9:30 a.m., each chef received a basket of several “mystery ingredients” from the farmers’ market. This year, those items included lamb chops from Elihu Farm, kale from Otrembiak Farm, fennel from Denison Farm, and Gar-La-La, a vegan garlic-potato dip sold at the Wednesday markets by the Zorbas.
The master of ceremonies for the event was Dave Pedinotti, chef and owner of Mouzon House. Judges for the competition (as pictured in photo below) were:
- Ashley Dingeman, food blogger (saratogafoodfanatic.com)
- Daniel Berman, food writer (fussylittleblog.com and contributor to AllOverAlbany.com)
- Arielle Landsberg, president of Slow Food Saratoga Region (slowfoodsaratoga.com)
Judging was based on criteria including taste, presentation, and originality.
Max London’s Plates
After sampling each chef’s plates, Ireland was declared the 2012 winner, coming out ahead of London by a few points.
“Our market places an emphasis on helping consumers create fresh, healthy meals from farm-fresh ingredients from this region. We hope this competition might inspire some friendly competitions among families or neighbors, ” noted Market Coordinator and event organizer Suzanne Carreker-Voigt.